How to Support the Bereaved During a Pandemic

How to support the bereaved during a pandemic.

When others are hurting we have an overwhelming urge to help, especially those who have recently lost a loved one. You don’t have to be a frontline worker to provide solace  during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone can acknowledge a loss and give support during unconventional circumstances like these. Here’s how you can help a grieving acquaintance, coworker, neighbor, friend or family member.

Maintain Connections

It’s important to let the bereaved know you are thinking of them even if you can’t be physically present. Social distancing doesn’t mean disappearing. There are many different ways to remain connected and offer virtual support using technology, but sometimes the bereaved aren’t familiar with video chat apps or don’t have social media accounts. 

Get creative and find ways to make a meaningful connection. You’ve probably seen pictures of people standing outside the window of an elderly person’s home holding hearts and signs letting them know they are loved while talking through the window. For some this type of gesture is more touching than a phone call. Even simple messages of hope drawn with sidewalk chalk can comfort a grieving neighbor.

Give the Gift of Food

People don’t always have the time or energy to cook while grieving, which is why the tradition of taking food to the bereaved is so widespread. Though many people won’t accept a homemade lasagna because of the coronavirus pandemic, a gift card for meal delivery might be appreciated. Another idea? Give them a care package with ingredients for an easy-prep meal and paper plates to eliminate the need to do dishes. 

Long after the memorial service, widows and widowers often find cooking and grocery shopping difficult. Continue to ask if s/he is eating okay and if you can help in any way. Seniors might not know about meal-assistance resources available in their area; something as simple as providing them with a list or making a phone call on their behalf could be of great help.

Reminisce Together

Few things are more comforting than reminiscing about a lost loved one. Focusing on the good times and sharing happy memories with the bereaved may also give them inspiration as they write a loved one’s obituary and/or eulogy. But don’t do all the talking; listening to them tell their own stories is one of the most important things you can do for a grieving person. Sending them digital photographs with a “remember when” type of message or uploading photos to the interactive timeline on their loved one’s Life Story on is another way to show your love and virtually reminisce.

Share Content From Professionals

Everyone grieves differently. What helped you get through a loss of a loved one might not be the same for another person, especially during the unique circumstances of a global pandemic. Grieving is especially challenging right now. If you read an article on NPR that applies to their situation or see a book on Amazon written by a professional, go ahead and share with them — now or down the road. The healing process is ongoing and the content may be just what they need. 

Assist With Planning

Offer to help with any planning details you can to lessen some of the burden of the bereaved. Scaling down a memorial service to abide by current standards for public gatherings can be difficult emotionally and logistically.  You might be tech-savvy and could set up equipment for them to live stream the memorial service for those who aren’t able to attend. If the loss was unexpected and there are financial concerns, you could also set up a fund (with the family’s permission) to help with expenses. Links to the service and memorial fund can be included with a Life Story on and creating a Life Story during the coronavirus pandemic is free. The creation process is incredibly cathartic for most people. Help them sign in using the link below. If you’re adept with words, offer to proofread their loved one’s Life Story. 

Start a Life Story

Almost everyone has experienced some type of loss recently, whether as a direct or indirect result of the pandemic. It’s a stark reminder of our mortality, but also a reminder of the goodness of humanity. We hope that some of these suggestions make it possible for you to provide solace and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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